“Wow. I just want to cry. Please tell me we are making a difference.”’
Those were the words of a colleague today after she watched a video illustrating a recent Bill McKibben essay about a rising tide of climate change symptoms around the world.
Many months have passed since the disappointments of Copenhagen and the failure to pass climate legislation in the United States.
Facing urgency from the planetary physics and gridlock in the political process, it is probably natural to feel discouragement at times.
But there are good reasons to believe we are making a difference, and good reasons to keep on going.
Here are three that keep me going:
- While it may feel like time is running out, time is also on our side.
Climate symptoms will become stronger and more convincing with the passage of time, and so will the lessons from those trail-blazing communities that have already leaped into the transition to clean energy and begun to reap the benefits in cleaner air and better jobs. If we keep moving ahead and doing our best, the dynamics of the system are destined to provide us with lift and support. Keeping going means that we are planting our seeds, strengthening our networks and building our capacity to seize the moments that a changing climate and cutting edge energy experimenters will offer as time passes.
Our colleague from the Elumenati, David McConville and Ned Gardiner, worked with a team to adapt C-ROADS data into spatial format to display on a globe within the Eluminati’s Geo-Dome. Here’s a short video of the results in Copenhagen last December. (Look around minute 0:42 for the slide that says “Business as Usual” for the globe with C-ROADS output.)
Trevor Houser, our colleague formerly of the U.S. State Department, used C-ROADS to find hope in the Copenhagen Accord.
He wrote: “Either way, if countries follow through on their pledges and follow on with more aggressive action, keeping global temperature increases below 2 degrees Celsius is still within reach.”
Note — by our calculations, global greenhouse gas emissions would need to drop 3.3% per year for temperature to stay within 2 degrees C.
Put this finding together with Beth Sawin’s press release of yesterday and the message is: We’re not yet on track, but the goal is within reach.
NY Times’ Dot Earth blog picked up the finding here. (Yes, C-ROADS is “the model developed in part by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology”).
Posted here is a short video of Trevor Houser talking about the U.S. State Department’s use of C-ROADS.
With January 31st as the ‘soft’ deadline for countries to submit to the UNFCCC their proposals for greenhouse gas emissions reductions under the Copenhagen Accord we’ve been hearing the question from colleagues and the press: do these submissions bring the world any closer to the goal of limiting temperature increase to 1.5° or 2°C?
We’ve ‘run the numbers’ and our most recent analysis shows essentially the same results that we reported December 19th at the close of the Copenhagen Summit: if current proposals were fully implemented average global temperature would overshot the 2° goal and would in fact increase by approximately 3.9°C (7.0°F) by 2100. Our press release contains more details on the analysis. Continue reading
The Climate Interactive team, led by Sustainability Institute, delivered big results in Copenhagen at the UNFCCC’s COP15 climate conference.
Bill McKibben wrote in the UK Guardian, from Copenhagen: “the only people who really understand what’s going on may be a small crew … called Climate Interactive. Their software speaks numbers, not spin – and in the end it’s the numbers that count.”
He is overstating our uniqueness, but here are the top ten most notable moments and achievements.
1. Obama heard (at least they tell us). From our office in Copenhagen hosted by the Rasmussen Foundation and Sea Change, 48 hours before President Obama’s arrival, we created two rounds of customized real-time C-ROADS analysis of the COP15 negotiations requested by and delivered to a top White House science advisor who briefed the President before his activities in Copenhagen.
2. Our Climate Scoreboard went viral. While we expected only dozens of blogs and Facebook pages to embed the “widget” we created, we found that over 1500 actually did and that sites around the world, in multiple languages, added the Scoreboard (supported by Morgan Family Foundation) to their online media. CBS, NPR, Boston Globe, YES!, Washington Post, ABC News, and Nature for example. While we expected a couple thousand visits, we witnessed over 300,000 visits to the Scoreboard! See videos of Beth Sawin presenting it here and here.
3. Real time analysis of negotiations happened. As draft texts were released, we analyzed their impacts in C-ROADS (supported by Zennstrom Philanthropies) really fast. Press releases during Copenhagen are here.
4. C-ROADS analysis got to the negotiators. A dramatically leaked confidential UN document (reported in a scanned pdf version mid-conference by the UK Guardian) had the words “Climate Interactive” and “Climate Scoreboard” scrawled across the top! Check it out in the document. Continue reading
Trevor Houser of the US State Department, speaking about C-ROADS-CP at the US Center in Copenhagen, December 2009.
Text is below. Continue reading
The collaboration of the C-ROADS team with Chinese climate analysts at Tsinghua University is growing via a university partnership.
At the recent UN conference in Copenhagen, Drew Jones of Sustainability Institute met with Professor He Jiankun of Tsinghua University (shown in the photo) to discuss extending and customizing the C-ROADS simulation to better match the energy development future in China.
And over the past two weeks, teams from Sustainability Institute, Tsinghua University, MIT, the Society for Organizational Learning, and Ventana Systems are collaborating to include important factors such as GDP, energy intensity, and fuel mix onsite at MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA.
Some of the group at MIT in Cambridge are shown in the picture. Dr. John Sterman (MIT), Xiaohu Luo (Tsinghua), Lori Siegel (SI), Drew Jones (SI), Tom Fiddaman (Ventana), Zhou Li (Tsinghua), Peter Senge (MIT/SoL), Rebecca Niles (SI/STC).
(This is a guest post by Climate Interactive team member Tom Fiddaman of Ventana Systems. His terrific blog is here. This post originally ran at the blog of Xujun Eberlein: Inside Out China.)
I’ve finally recovered from a long and frustrating week at COP15 in Copenhagen. Like many, I never actually made it into the conference center itself – even though I had the needed secondary pass, registration lines were just too long. I bailed out when the Danish police started passing out coffee in the queue. Instead, I spent the week with the Climate Interactive team, analyzing potential proposals, talking to the press, and preparing briefing materials.
What unfolded was a bizarre flurry of contradictory official and unofficial draft texts of an agreement. In the final hours of the conference, language about hard targets, enforcement, and other encouraging steps gradually disappeared. In the end, the assembled parties approved a decision that merely “takes note” of the nth hour “Copenhagen Accord” presented by the US and BASIC countries. Continue reading
Amongst several dozen other major media outlets — click here for many of them — the International Herald Tribune used our open source Climate Scoreboard data to create their summary graphic for their coverage of the Copenhagen Accord.
A pdf of the full article is here.